Traditional B2B commerce involved meeting with customers in person, taking orders over the phone, mailing invoices to clients, and so on. But in a post COVID-19 world, both B2C and B2B customers expect faster, smoother user experiences that can be accessed via their desktop, laptop, or mobile device. Now, manufacturers and distributors across all industries are bringing their buyer journey online with B2B eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce.
However, a templated eCommerce website, mobile app, or B2B sales portal may not be enough to achieve the level of success your business is looking for. After all, every business these days has some kind of online presence. So how do you create the most efficient eCommerce experience possible for your customers, employees, and partners? Enter B2B headless commerce.
A quick overview of headless commerce
With headless commerce architecture, the front-end presentation layer is decoupled from its back-end eCommerce functionality, giving brands more control over content management and the overall customer experience.
For instance, when a design and development team wants to implement new front-end technologies, or make significant changes to their online sales portal, they can do so without creating additional work for back-end developers, as each application in a headless system operates independently of each other—communicating via APIs.
Traditional eCommerce platforms, on the other hand, have a monolithic structure, which means that a single change to the front or back end can affect the entire tech stack, leading to complex development workflows, slow deployment times, and an overall lack of eCommerce scalability.
While some can get by with a monolithic architecture, many B2B companies will require a more complex, headless approach to remain competitive in the ever-evolving online selling space.
Benefits of B2B headless commerce
B2B headless commerce offers greater freedom and flexibility than traditional, templated online storefronts. So if your eCommerce business is getting ready to launch a B2B sales portal, or is looking for new ways to improve buyer engagement across channels, consider the following benefits of migrating to a headless architecture.
Gaining a competitive edge with superior UX & UI
When analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of your B2B customer experience, take a look at the digital solutions provided by your competitors. What does their online sales portal look like? Is it easy to navigate? Is it responsive to all screen sizes and devices? In the current business landscape, providing a customer portal with a fast, responsive, and intuitive user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) will help you gain an advantage over the other businesses in your niche.
B2B buyers now expect B2C-like experiences, where they can log on, find products, create bulk orders, make payments, track the status of their orders, and so on—all without the help of a sales or customer service representative. Facilitating an accessible, efficient customer experience requires an understanding of what your customers want—based on market trends, user behavior, and competitive analysis—then translating those expectations into real UX and UI components.
A headless commerce solution enables your development team to keep up with customer expectations by making constant updates to the front-end experience. For example, you can integrate a new third-party shipping solution to speed up delivery times, or a new payment gateway to support multiple payment options, or a new PIM tool to better keep product pages populated with the most updated information. You can also modify page layouts, add new pages, and implement new branding elements—all without creating any additional work for back-end developers. In short, headless architecture allows greater freedom and flexibility when customizing and personalizing the online B2B customer experience.
Expanding to new digital channels
In addition to your business’ online sales portal, you can sell products on third-party B2B marketplaces like Alibaba and Amazon Business. This allows you to reach a wider audience and meet customers in a familiar territory where they’re more inclined to do business. You can also integrate social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn into your sales and marketing strategy, further expanding your digital presence.
A growing number of B2B companies are leveraging third-party marketplaces and social media platforms to sell more products and better engage with their target audience. In fact, 15% of B2B customers in the US make purchases through Amazon Business, and 46% use social media to find information about different products and services. In other words, expanding to new online channels is a critical step forward for fast-growing, competitive manufacturers and distributors.
A headless eCommerce platform like Shopify Plus allows you to integrate new sales and marketing channels into the customer journey, without sacrificing significant time, money, and resources. Through APIs, these channels can be managed from a single dashboard, as well as communicate customer and product data to your business’ ERP, CRM, PIM, and other solutions—creating a unified, efficient technological ecosystem.
Scalability is a key thing to consider here. As eCommerce trends and technologies continue to evolve, new platforms and opportunities will present themselves. And with a headless architecture, your business will be better equipped to adopt new, innovative technologies.
Streamlining internal processes
As discussed, design and development teams benefit from working under a headless or microservices architecture, since it allows front- and back-end teams to work independently of each other. Different teams can focus on scaling different elements of a web application without creating unwanted ripple effects, resulting in higher productivity, lower operational costs, and fewer human errors. This becomes increasingly important as your business grows, selling more products to more buyers across more channels.
By streamlining development workflows via headless commerce, you can spend more time and resources on high-priority objectives rather than making simple updates to the front-end experience. This presents a huge opportunity for B2B companies looking to expand to new channels and territories, as well as adapt quickly to new industry trends, technological innovations, and customer expectations.
Get started with B2B headless commerce for your brand
Here at Codal, we specialize in migrating organizations from monolithic to headless eCommerce systems. We’ve done this for both B2B and B2C companies in food and beverage, healthcare, finance, and other industries—and we partner with two of the biggest eCommerce platforms in the world, Shopify and BigCommerce. Our goal is to help our clients improve customer relationships, increase revenue, and streamline internal processes via cutting-edge digital solutions.
Interested in learning more about how Codal can modernize your company’s B2B operations via a data-driven headless commerce strategy? Get in touch with a member of our team today!